Interview: Sai Priyanka (Chem-2016)
Please tell us about your profile and about what your job entails.
Currently, I work in supply chain in operations. Before this, I worked in marketing and had a 2-3 month stint in consulting as well. I joined P&G eight months ago, before which I worked in a company called Happay for around 9 months. Then, I worked at a consultancy company called ‘Impendi Analytics’ for three months, and then I joined P&G. I secured all of these jobs off campus.
Could you tell us more about off-campus placements since students don’t usually explore this route? What made you try off-campus placements?
It’s very difficult for someone trying to get an off-campus placement, as companies don’t usually consider your profile since you have no prior experience. It’s not something I would recommend. I took a long time, around 3 and a half months after college, to land a job.
I didn’t get into the first few companies that I sat for. Also, the companies that subsequently came were all recruiting for the core profile and the pay was less, which I was not keen on. So I decided to try my hand at off-campus placements, and also made a few MBA applications at the time.
What kind of skills do you need at your current job? Does any of the technical knowledge/skills you gained at college help you currently?
Nothing that I learnt in college is going to help me here. To be honest with you, in my interview here, I was asked what I did for NITTFest and Pragyan. I wouldn’t say that they’re looking for leadership skills, but rather, how good someone is, at solving a problem and how open they are to taking up new things.
Do you plan on pursuing an MBA? Does work experience matter to be able to pursue an MBA?
I do, but not right away because I’ve moved around a lot and I want to stay put for a while. So, I am looking at an MBA, probably 2-3 years down the line. For me, work experience will matter in doing an MBA because I’m not looking to pursue it in India, and I’m quite firm on that.
To what extent should one strive to strike a balance between job satisfaction and good pay? Why do you think a lot of people get bored at their jobs soon after joining?
That is honestly a personal choice. You can be happy in a job that’s not paying well if you really love what you’re doing. But it’s not an option for me. Monetary satisfaction is primary to me.
Getting bored at a job depends on a lot of things. In my first job, I became bored because of my manager. I wasn’t in a very good work environment. I wasn’t getting to do things that I really wanted to do (or even have the freedom to), which killed my buzz.
What kind of soft skills did NITT equip you with, that helps you at your job?
I learnt how to work with people in NITT. I worked for Pragyan, NITTFest and Feeds. From NITTFest and Pragyan, I learnt a lot about how to lead a team, which was a big deal for me. It’s what drove me to do things then, and it’s what drives me now as well.
Now, at NITT, we have an option to pursue management as a Minors subject. Does it place a candidate, from a recruiter’s point of view, in an advantageous position if they know that a candidate has pursued management as a minor?
From a recruiter’s point of view, no. But I do think it’ll help you guys understand if you really like the subject or not.
You’ve changed jobs twice. What is the experience of changing jobs like?
Essentially, I’ve worked in two places. My job at Delhi was for a very short period. My first job, but it took me time to realise that I didn’t like the place and the reason why I didn’t.
Once I realised that, I spent another two months searching for a job, so I only did one in Bangalore. Then, I moved to Delhi, but one month into my job at Delhi, I got a call from P&G.
There are many students in college who aren’t sure of what to do in life. How does one decide what career to pursue? How long can one afford to experiment with different things to be certain of their decision?
It’s fine to not be sure about what one wants to do in life. In college, you’re in a protected bubble, where everyone is smart. You seem to have everything figured out. But you don’t, and that’s completely normal. Only when you go out and see what’s there, will you know what’s right for you. Honestly, I’m fascinated by people who know exactly what they want to do because I’ve never been able to do that myself. So it’s okay to not know where you want to go or what you want to do, but people like this should be willing to experiment, otherwise they won’t really know what they want to do.
The experimenting period depends on the person. Honestly, I’m happy here, but not everyone that I know is. It depends on a lot of things; what purpose you’re here for, what kind of people you are with, etc. For me, it’s always been about the people, because if I’m not with the right set of people, I don’t really work well.
It is important to keep experimenting. I’m the kind of person that needs to experience something to get a complete feel of it. I’m enjoying my job profile now, but there is no guarantee that I will enjoy it 5 years later.
In hindsight, what are some things you wish you knew in college? Anything that might have made things easier for you?
Nothing much. I’ve always had guidance from my seniors and my siblings and everyone else. But I do think T & P could have played a bigger role, but that’s about it.
What do you think T & P could have done to help you during college?
Firstly, I think the T & P should be more organized with company PPTs. It puts students in a difficult position when they come to know that a company is coming the next day.
They should ensure that company PPTs are held in advance so as to give the students an idea of what type of companies are coming down. I know it is difficult to copy the placement season of an IIT, but we can definitely replicate what Surathkal is doing.
Surathkal’s placement season starts in August, and they have all the high-paying companies come down in the first week of August. It would help a lot if the PPTs are held at the beginning of summer, with the students being informed beforehand about the type of companies that will be coming to recruit. I think it would make a huge difference.
Announcing that a company is coming right before it comes does not do any good for anyone.
What kind of skills are required in your current job profile? How does one prepare for a job in such a profile?
Nothing really. You should focus on overall development. But again, that’s only my profile. P&G looks at something like that. I would strongly recommend concentrating on core as well.
As for P&G, they do not look for anything core-related because they believe everything can be taught. They don’t test on anything technical because they hire managers and do not expect them to know technical aspects.
The interview for this profile is very resume-driven, so try doing as many things as you can to be able to put on your resume, and also have answers (stories/anecdotes) to questions like, “What was your biggest failure?” or “What was your moment of truth?” and other similar questions.
What plans do you have for the future? Did you have long-term plans before working at your current job?
I did, and they didn’t go according to plan. For now, I’ll continue doing what I’m doing for another year, and later, 2-3 years down the line, I’ll pursue my MBA.
What kind of opportunities do you think will open up once you do your MBA from a foreign school?
It depends on me wanting to go into consulting, coming back to supply chain, or wanting to go into banking, or whatever.
I can also go into supply-chain consulting, which is an option as well. I’ve not really made up my mind on what I want to do and where I want to go, I just know that I want to do something I’m interested in. That’s all.
What is the transition from college life to work culture like? Any specific skills one must pick up to cope with the transition?
There is a lot more responsibility but I find that quite exciting. You have to buy vegetables, pay your electricity bill, and other things like that, but these are things you have to learn at some point or the other and I honestly find it pretty cool.
As for skills, there’s nothing more you can learn in college. You learn everything you need to on the job.
What advice would you give to the students of NITT, if you have any?
I’d just like to tell everyone to join clubs. I know this is something that a lot of people say is not important, but everything I am today is because of the clubs that I joined. Clubs are what helped me open up and grow as a person, and I’ve grown a lot only because of the people I’ve met through the clubs that I’ve been a part of.
Also, I know a lot of people won’t believe this but a year and a half after I left college, my Pragyan and NITTFest experiences drove my P&G interview, and that means something.
So they’re not utterly useless, and even if they don’t help in your interview, they’ll help you grow. I’d ask people to go and join because they complement your academics.
Connect with Sai Priyanka on LinkedIn here.